‘The Fall Guy’ review: An entertaining homage to unsung heroes of action films

This movie must win an Oscar for stunts. This is a thought you are likely to have while watching The Fall Guy. But, there is no Oscar for stunts. And the movie calls this out by writing it into the dialogue. Perhaps this can prompt the Academy into addressing the lack of recognition for stunt performers in its awards. One can always hope.

But, for now, the biggest recognition you can give the The Fall Guy, and, indeed, all the real life ‘fall guys’ who put their bodies on the line, is to go and watch this movie on the big screen. And, it will most certainly be well worth your time. The action scenes are phenomenal and the stunts are mind blowing. To top it all off, the comedy is effortlessly excellent.

The first half breezes past, despite the time dedicated to a complicated romance. In fact, the love story does not take anything away from the narrative of the action comedy. Rather, it makes it even more engaging. Due credit to the leads, Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, for pulling this off. They have brilliant chemistry and it is also age-appropriate casting—both Gosling and Blunt are in their early 40s. This is particularly encouraging for those who are often discomfited by the lead actress being significantly younger than the male co-star she is paired with.

The lead duo nailed all aspects of their roles—comedy, action and emotions. The supporting cast are all praiseworthy. But, while the acting is a strong point of the movie, the highlight, without doubt, is the stunt work. Of course, this was to be expected from David Leitch—the stunt-performer-turned-director who helmed Atomic Blonde (2017), Deadpool 2 (2018) and Bullet Train (2022) and one of the men behind the John Wick movies. But, all expectations are likely to be exceeded with The Fall Guy.

One of the most noteworthy things about the approach to the stunts is that they are built up by the plot. So, before showing you the stunt, the movie makes it clear how difficult those stunts are. This was a great choice and makes it a more exciting watch. Before one of the most remarkable sequences of the movie, Gosling’s character says that he feels ill-prepared to do cannon rolls. What followed was a breathtaking eight-and-a-half cannon rolls by stunt driver Logan Holladay—it broke the Guinness World Record for most cannon rolls in a car, set by stuntman Adam Kirley (seven in 2006’s Casino Royale).

One part of the storytelling that did not work well is one of the early scenes which shows an accident. The incident is not shown properly and is instead conveyed through shocked reactions of onlookers on audio and then cutting to the aftermath. This makes it obvious that there is something more to the ‘accident’. And this comes as a revelation late into the move. But, it was always utterly predictable. Perhaps, showing more of the accident could have convinced the audience that it was just an accident and thereby setup the reveal better.

Also, the third act of the movie is not as good as the first two. This is ironic because the film shows Blunt’s character being concerned about the third act of a movie she is making. The climax is helped greatly by the action set pieces.

However, despite these flaws, Leitch, who did stunts for the likes of Brad Pitt and Jean-Claude Van Damme, has crafted a fitting homage to the unsung heroes of the movie business. Apart from giving us a glimpse into the nature of the stunt team’s work, there is also plenty of riveting meta discussion on movie making and references galore for the cinephiles to delve into.

Film: The Fall Guy

Director: David Leitch

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Hannah Waddingham, Winston Duke

Rating: 4/5